Strategies for Stepping Up Without Getting Your Heart Stomped on
BY BRENDA SNYDER, LCSW
The stepmom gig is changing. For many stepfamilies, gone are the days when his (or her) kids showed up as every-other-weekend visitors; when they sucked up your household’s attention, energy and resources for a few days at a time—during which everything seemed to screech to a halt, shift and evolve to suit the disruption.
Though, they were relatively absent the other 20-some days in any given month.
Children of divorce now frequently split their time evenly between parents and, increasingly, they have begun living with their fathers full time. There are many reasons why this is a positive sign of changing times. Yet, it is also true that this evolution has begun to have a significant effect on stepmoms.
There are pitfalls to be aware of, when you suddenly find yourself stepmothering full-time.
Any stepmom who’s attempted to educate herself about being successful in her role knows that she’s not to take the place of Mom, either in her own mind or in her inter- actions with her stepchildren. This becomes seriously difficult when you’re literally stepping up as a female head of household whose nurturing nature and natural abilities catapult you into the role of Comforter.
Chances are it’s you who’ll kiss their boo-boos and plan their play dates. You’ll be the one who knows who’s supposed to be where and how they’re expected to get there. You’ll continue to do the majority of the shopping, the gift selection and the party planning. How can you possibly do all of that, as a full-time stepmom, and not risk taking Mom’s place—in one way or another?
Managing physical custody of your stepkids, while maintaining healthy boundaries, requires that you cultivate the ability to guard your heart, work through discipline issues, keep any feelings of resentment to a minimum and remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. …To read this article, log in and download the April 2018 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.